Dodgers rookie sensation Will Smith has checked off a lot of boxes here early in his big league career. Now, thanks to the fantastic “Backstage Dodgers” series from SportsNet LA, we have the opportunity to learn a little more about the rookie catcher, and the thought process behind drafting him.
While the entire almost 7 minute video is a great watch, we’re focusing first on what Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino had to say about Will Smith.
Will was a target because he was an outstanding defender. We thought he had a really short, compact swing — ability to make contact at a high level, and kind of surprising power.
Everyone kind of described him as the guy and person we know now, a really good human being that cared about other people, that could work well with pitchers, and had outstanding skill level on both sides of the ball.
The Kentucky native was drafted by the Dodgers with the 32nd pick in the 2016 draft that rose the ranks within the system rapidly, but not without hiccups. Will’s father Mark touched on some of the hiccups, mainly Will’s struggle in his first stint with Triple-A in 2018.
He went through some real struggles. Last year in Triple-A, his swing kind of went bad, and he was striking out all the time. But he said, ‘this is what they want me to do, and this is what I’m gonna do, and I’m gonna keep working at it until I get it.’
And “get it” he did. After struggling to the tune of a .138/.206/.218 slash line in 25 AAA games in 2018, Smith rebounded to hit .269/.381/.605 in 61 AAA games in 2019, earning his first big league call up along the way.
Now penciled in as the Dodgers starting catcher for the foreseeable future, the Fresh Prince is showing no signs of slowing down.